31

I was expecting this to have already been asked, but can't find any clear explanation in the archives. There are a lot of mentions of the phrase "rep farming" in various meta questions, but it seems the people posting are just assuming the readers know what they mean by that. Well I personally don't find it very clear, and I can't find any clear definition either.

So, what is "rep farming" in the context of Stack Exchange?

  • Is it taking advantage of holes or edge cases in the site game mechanics just to gain rep?
  • Is it engaging in troll-like or antisocial behavior for the purpose of gaining rep (for example, down-voting good answers just because they compete with yours)?
  • Is it posting a flood of low quality questions/answers in hopes of gaining rep statistically?
  • Is it regular quality contribution but by someone who happens to care more about reputation than about helping other people?
  • Is it some amalgamation of the above? Something else entirely? Is there a clear definition at all, or is it one of those things that is left intentionally vague?

Finally, is rep farming considered bad/harmful for the community, good/helpful, or neutral?

  • 27
    Anyone have a link to Pekka's Organic Rep Farm handy? Found it – The Unhandled Exception Mar 26 '12 at 22:18
  • 1
    rep farming === rep whoring??? I guess I don't know what it means either. – Adam Rackis Mar 26 '12 at 22:32
  • 1
    We should call that Rep-Turfing – m90 Mar 27 '12 at 11:32
  • Some examples I’ve seen on SU: • Posting guesses and requests for more information as “answers” instead of comments • Taking info from others’ comments or answers after they’re shown to be helpful and posting it as an answer or adding it to your own answer which did not previously contain that info • Trolling through the bounty page and answering only bounty questions • Posting a wrong answer and abandoning it (but not deleting it) if it turns out to be too much work / the bounty is not “high enough” • Adding a single space to a post to “bump” it – Synetech Dec 24 '13 at 1:16
20

Rep farming (or the discouraged "rep whoring") is just like gold farming. Though rep isn't usually sold, the activities are comparable because to make a profit at selling game currency you need to make a lot of it, and the goal of rep farming is to make a lot of rep.

At its most basic, it's participating just for the reputation. This isn't always bad, but when your primary goal is increasing your number, you're willing to sacrifice other things (honesty, playing by the rules, completeness and quality, etc.) in order to gain things more likely to get you rep (trust, sock puppet accounts, the first answer, etc.). So yes, it's "some amalgamation of the above".

You're not going to find one solid definition that everyone uses consistently — rep farming is something that exists on a scale. In general, though, it leads to lower quality content, antisocial behavior, and the decreased usefulness of rep as a measure of helpful participation, expertise, and trust. People who care about the site — and rep farmers who are out-farmed by people more ingenious or evil than they — obviously view this behavior negatively.

  • 3
    It sounds to me like "rep farming" is not really the issue, it's the other inappropriate behaviors that might go along with it. There's nothing wrong with people trying to amass a Jesusload of reputation, as long as they don't break the rules or do anything unethical along the way. In my mind, calling someone a reputation whore is just a friendly jab, not to imply anything sinister. I feel like your answer conflates the two or at least assumes a correlation that is not necessarily implied. – Cody Gray Mar 27 '12 at 2:09
  • @TheEstablishment I said "This isn't always bad", meaning to get at exactly what you said :P – Matthew Read Mar 27 '12 at 3:32
10

My interpretation of rep farming is totally different, I take it in the agricultural sense.

Rep farming is just sitting back and watching the rep come in from votes on your existing contributions.

For example: if Jon Skeet were to stop contributing today, his rep would keep on shooting up at a much higher rate than the majority of active 'low' rep contributors.

  • That's what I thought as well.. I couldn't make the connection to gold farming since gold farming involves a IRL cash profit. – Manishearth Mar 27 '12 at 11:10
  • 1
    @Manishearth, and doesn't gold farming involve hoards of clicking Chinese slaves cooped up in sheds? – Benjol Mar 27 '12 at 11:49
  • 2
    So you're like Pekka, a sustainable, organic Rep Farmer. Matthew Reed is talking about large-scale, industrial "rape the land" Rep Farming. :-) – The Unhandled Exception Mar 27 '12 at 12:47
  • 2
    @TheUnhandledException, yup, I'm a gentleman farmer me. I leave my SO potatoes to grow in the sun while I chill out here on meta... – Benjol Mar 27 '12 at 13:49
  • + 1 Cool Answer – clickbait Jun 9 '18 at 20:42
2

I interpret "rep farming" as being aligned with "farming" - like "the science and techniques of producing crops". So:

Using up a network of sock puppet accounts whose interactions mimic those of real accounts, and whose (large) number help disguise and dilute their pernicious activities.

-7

I suppose attempting an answer such as this could be considered "rep farming" (especially at 33 where a single upvote is worth a lot) but despite the relatively light loss of 2 for downvotes, this could backfire if this "answer spam" results in poor answers! Still, an answer like this is way too self-demonstrating and just so much of an "edge case" for me to pass up, so I thought I'd be a bit humorous here.

More generally, to me this would be if I were to spam answers (in all likelihood, because those get more rep per upvote at +10 vs. +5 for questions) in hopes of some friendly upvotes, so even if they score negative overall, I can still gain reputation!

But it still wouldn't be much if it worked, if they were poor enough quality answers to work against the purpose of reputation. My experience does say that such marginally thought-out QA does attract enough downvotes to mitigate this effect - and defeat the purpose of "answer spam" for reputation. As far as I can tell, questions and answers that earn a lot of reputation deserve it, and there should be no reason to accuse useful QA of "reputation farming" just because it earns up to 200 reputation a day, per that rule capping the daily gain there! So it's not exactly like I can shoot up to moderator-level overnight, and people would have to actually like my answers for me to gain even close to 200 reputation a day!

So I'm not particularly worried about any honest question or answer honestly believed to be fitting for Stack Exchange to be "reputation farming." I may be relatively new here, but from what I can gather, "good" questions and answers are exactly how we're intended to earn reputation, and any such gains should not be construed as "farming!"

  • 1
    I think three downvotes on this speak for this answer further: even borderline "rep farming" doesn't work. And yes, this answer was perfectly willing to lose reputation to make its point. You definitely need very good QA to gain reputation nowadays, especially with all the questions present already, which can get many otherwise perfectly fine questions downvoted and marked as duplicates! – GuitarHeroAndDancer9001 Jul 23 at 21:57
  • 2
    "But it still wouldn't be much if it worked, if they were poor enough quality answers to work against the purpose of reputation." The issue with rep farming is not that it gives people lots of rep. It's that it drives them to do bad things. It's not about whether it "works"; it's about a large number of people who are engaged on the site but do not care about the quality of their content or anyone else's. – Nicol Bolas Aug 1 at 4:21
  • You are very brave :-) Exactly this is what you should do. Don't worry if it seems you hit walls, also I started so. And then, slowly with diligent work, I could earn what I earned. And now I am tearing these walls down. Get a lot of rep! The trick to the meta SE: learn the SEDE. I could earn most of my rep by SEDE posts. Also posts about the usage of the system (particularly: "how to search something" topics) are considered useful, even by the people giving 10 times more downvotes than upvotes. Beside that, you can also attack the walls. – peterh says reinstate Monica Aug 1 at 10:16
  • SEDE is very useful also to understand a lot from the SE system. For example, behind the seemingly self-governing movement of the herd, there is a clearly visible shepherd. You can also learn a lot to optimize mssql queries. – peterh says reinstate Monica Aug 1 at 10:22
  • I just Googled that SEDE stands for Stack Exchange Data Explorer. I thought this would be useful in making it more clear where I can learn more from. I'm so glad that a quick Google search of "what is SEDE on Stack Exchange" turned up the answer intended! The URL is data.stackexchange.com. I just thought that what SEDE actually stood for needed to be made clearer to users, particularly as "new" as me or newer! – GuitarHeroAndDancer9001 Aug 10 at 1:24
-14

Rep farming means that you contribute many good posts to the community. And then, you see that glowing green rectangle, again and again. And you are happy on that.1

It is the greatest fun of the Stack Exchange.2

1You can have some induvidual local goals, too. For example, getting the VtC/VtR privilege on X site. Or getting to 200 on all your accounts. Better to not say these goals until you reach them.

2Unfortunately, some people - most of them has a high rep, but active only on a single site - typically dislike your this activity, and seem using every trick in the book to prevent you from getting rep. On my experience, somehow they won't understand: although you are just playing, because you enjoy it, you still work hardly to produce a lot HQ content.

  • I have removed all the comments here as they were degenerating. Please remember to keep things civil. – ChrisF Aug 1 at 21:28
  • 1
    Please disclaim your sarcasm, or not? – Luuklag Aug 3 at 12:29
  • @Luuklag Please elaborate. Your comment is unclear. – peterh says reinstate Monica Aug 3 at 17:32
  • Well your entire answer reads like one big sarcasm. But I dont know if that was intended or not, because interwebz. – Luuklag Aug 3 at 17:59
  • @Luuklag Here can you get a better understand of the context. My this answer was motivated (and this question went into my attention) in the chat below that post. – peterh says reinstate Monica Aug 3 at 18:07

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .